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Denise Gavala reflects on how she experienced the true goodness of human nature when Habitat for Humanity volunteers helped to repair her family home after the devastation of Superstorm Sandy.

The world was my oyster! I had a great job and parents whom I adored, and I was surrounded by great friends. I didn’t have a care in the world. Then Superstorm Sandy hit, and my whole world was shaken. The ocean waves that had knocked at my parents’ door came flooding through their home. Floors, walls, and family treasures lay in ruin. As I stood at the bottom of the stairs of my parents’ home of 50 years and looked around, I felt hopeless.

And then, out of the darkness, people started to come from all over. It was something that could only be explained by this verse from Luke 4:10, NIV: “He will command his angels concerning you.” Habitat for Humanity volunteers and other groups of wonderful people pulled up in the dead of winter with tools, generators and skills.

I could not imagine. When one group left, another group came and started where the others left off. I fed them hot meals, ran errands and thanked them profusely. For the first time, I experienced the true goodness of human nature. It was always there, but that goodness came to me at my lowest time and opened my eyes to a lifetime of giving back. From all states, backgrounds, ethnicities and religious beliefs, they became my guardian angels with a goal of bringing my parents back home.

 I am not a very religious person, but what I came to realize was that God had a plan for me. I was simply one of His servants working that plan and not really knowing why. With the help of strangers, my parents were one of the first families in the area who were able to move home. Many days were filled with my parents thanking the individuals who helped them.

Out of something bad, something really good happened. This experience restored my faith in God and made me a better person. My dad, my biggest supporter in life, got to live in his beloved home again. He recently left this world to be with the Lord, knowing I was guided by the love of strangers, which gave him peace knowing all was right with the world. Through life, my dad had always taught me to be good, kind and charitable. “Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me.

Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19, ESV). Physical things can be replaced, but love, memories and guidance will live in your heart forever.


God of love, bring us back to You. Send Your Spirit to make us strong in faith and active in good works.


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